|White stone excavated from a mountain in Quỳ Hợp District, the central province of Nghệ An. The exploitation can lead to public disorder and environmental pollution. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Bá Liễu|
In Châu Quang, Châu Lộc, Châu Thành and Châu Hồng communes, the mountains were ravaged by mining activities.
Vi Thị Hoa, a resident of Châu Quang Commune, said that even though the companies have long since stopped operating, she still feels anxious whenever she crosses through the abandoned mines, as “large rocks on the mountains look poised to fall down below anytime.”
In Tri Lễ Commune of Quế Phong District, four companies were granted mining licences. At present, all four have closed down, leaving behind numerous underground tunnels, deep excavated holes, and towering piles of muddy soil.
“More worryingly, most of these mines are located at high altitudes. Failure to perform necessary land rehabilitation turns the old minefields into giant bubbles of water that may burst in heavy rain, washing away everything below,” Vi Văn Nam, a resident of the Tri Lễ Commune told Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper.
Similarly, in Diễn Châu District, six out of eight permitted mines have seen their licences expired already. When they closed their mines, the companies did nothing to restore the environment. Most notably, in Diễn Đoài Commune, numerous sinkholes left behind pose a grave danger to local residents and their cattle.
Other areas across Nghệ An Province suffer from the same negligence of the mining companies.
According to the authorities, there are 140 mineral mines province-wide that have either shut down or allowed their licences to expire. Most have failed to perform the necessary rehabilitation work as required by law.
Nguyễn Quốc Lâm, head of the Quế Phong District’s environment department, said that the scale of the damage these companies have done far surpassed the “little deposit” that the Government will use for environmental rehabilitation. Lâm added that with its available budget, the district can only implement “immediate measures” at the “critically dangerous sites, with high risks of collapse and other direct threats to the local people.”
In Quỳ Hợp District, the environment department said that the district and province authorities have met some of the violating companies, asking them to perform their duties. The department stated that any request to re-open the mines by these companies would be rejected. — VNS